My first ever yoga retreat (ENG)

At the start of every new year I put together a list of aspirations and intentions for the upcoming twelve months. The items on this list vary from easily attainable wishes, like going to a certain concert or enrolling in the next year of my yoga teacher training, to things I hope to be able to do one day but might take me a bit more than twelve months to achieve.

One of the things that has been on every wish list of the past few years was to go on a yoga retreat.

Well, my dear readers, I am proud to report that this has now happened. It’s 2015 and quite recently I went on my very first yoga retreat. It was absolutely awesome.

It was the first time since my burn-out in 2006 that I left home alone and, wow, did I expect trouble. My fears ranged from getting involved in a major car accident to showing my ‘true colours’ by having anger management issues during class. I saw some truly dark clouds on the horizon. And yet I went…

To my surprise I hardly encountered any resistance at all. OK, so I had some spots of bother, including an anxiety attack an hour before leaving. And on the third morning of the retreat my body was so stiff and sore from all those hours of asana and seated meditation that a proper forward fold was no longer an option. And oh yes, and I lost a pair of socks. But all that was nothing compared to what I found during those three days at that beautiful little castle of Radhadesh in the Belgian Ardennes.

Here’s what my first ever yoga retreat had in store for me:

The sound of silence

The first rule of Yoga Retreat was: You Do Not Talk About Yoga Retreat – or anything else – ’till noon. We were advised to refrain from speaking from waking up at 5.30am until after breakfast at 11am. On the first morning everyone heeded the advice, which led to a silence that was almost palpable. Walking into a full but quiet yoga room before dawn to sit down for meditation was a wonderful experience. All through that morning there were no distractions, no incentives; just a profound silence, the instructions of our teacher and of course the occasional sigh of relief of thirty-six people coming out of a difficult posture. For me the silence was bliss. I felt so calm. It was like coming home. I loved it.

Making connections

Not only was the silence touching, I also experienced a deep sense of connection to my fellow students and my teacher during those three days at Radhadesh. Usually I am quite reserved when I do not really know people. I dare say I might have hidden inside me some very minor confidence and trust issues to go with my BPD. (They’re negligible really, honestly, hardly there at all.. ? ) But right away I felt I could let go of them. Over the weekend I found connection in both the silence and in some beautiful conversations. What I loved most of all was that people were genuinely there for each other, giving their sincere attention, heartfelt hugs and helpful advice to anyone who needed it. I soon started wishing the whole world would go on a yoga retreat. That benevolent yogic attitude would do our planet a lot of good.

Inner strenght and love

Of course a retreat isn’t about being quiet, making new friends and taking a few yoga classes while you’re at it. It’s about leaving the outside world be for a while and turning inward through yoga, meditation and the study of ancient philosophy. It is like holding up a mirror to yourself to see what’s really there, beyond the mere physical features and beneath the chatter of the monkey mind. Once again I understood that my tenacious thought patterns and waves of emotion (mainly involving matters of confidence, trust and, of course, anxiety) are mere illusions and that underneath them lies a reservoir of inner strength and love. Experiencing this was very empowering. I truly hope that one day I will succeed in fully trusting that source of strength and kindness inside me, instead of being lead astray by my unfocused, trigger-happy mind over and over again. Fortunately for me practice makes progress.

So clearly car accidents and anger management issues were mere figments of my vivid imagination. The retreat presented me only with beautiful teachings, kind people and good food. (Of course among yogi’s a vegan option is not a problem at all. ♡ ) All in all it was an amazing experience. It proved once more that I am on the right track, strengthening my commitment to the path of yoga.

I am definitely adding ‘Yoga Retreat’ to my wish list for 2016


[Dit artikel werd eerder gepubliceerd op // Juli 2015]

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